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Suffolk Council UK Awards GBP40m Superfast Broadband Contract to BT

Monday, September 24th, 2012 (2:20 pm) - Score 1,039

The Suffolk County Council (SCC) has today confirmed that its £40 million contract to make superfast broadband (25Mbps+) services available to 85-90% of local homes and businesses by 2015 has unsurprisingly been awarded to BT. Just 2% of the “hardest to reach premises” will be left with sub-5Mbps speeds.

Precise details will not be known until the Local Broadband Plan (LBP) contract between BT and the council is finalised by mid-October 2012 and formally awarded by the end of that same month. The entire project, which has also “guaranteed broadband speeds of at least 2 megabits per second” to everybody, is expected to be completed by June 2015.

Councillor Mark Bee, Chair of the Better Broadband for Suffolk Project, said:

When we launched the Better Broadband for Suffolk campaign, we wanted to ensure that everyone who lives and works in our county benefits. Today I’m proud to say that we will deliver.

Improving access to broadband is going to help Suffolk’s economy grow by as much as and create up to 5000 new jobs. There’s a digital divide between Suffolk and the rest of the country but an even more acute disparity between urban and rural Suffolk. The Better Broadband programme is going to close those gaps, boost school attainment and help the public sector to deliver services more efficiently and cheaply.

Since I became leader of the county council, I have been determined to get Suffolk’s broadband aspirations back on track. I’m therefore delighted that we’ve come such a long way in such a short space of time. By the end of the year, the first properties are going to start benefiting from the programme and within three years, broadband access across Suffolk is going to be unrecognisable from what it is today.”

Few will be surprised by today’s announcement after BT’s only rival in the Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) process, Fujitsu, confirmed earlier this month that it had pulled out from bidding (here). On top of that the UK government recently labelled future IT and telecoms contracts from Fujitsu as “high risk” (here).

Interestingly SCC anticipates that the first premises to be connected through the Better Broadband For Suffolk programme will do so by the end of 2012, which implies a strong degree of confidence that Europe’s on-going competition concerns will indeed be resolved by the end of this month (here).

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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4 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark says:

    “Precise details will not be known until the Local Broadband Plan (LBP) contract between BT and the council is finalised by mid-October 2012 and formally awarded by the end of that same month. The entire project, which has also “guaranteed broadband speeds of at least 2 megabits per second” to everybody, is expected to be completed by June 2015.”

    Forget the 2Meg. That’s yesterday’s narrowband/dialup and irrelevant. I am however interested in seeing the “precise details” above to see how much FTTP is involved in achieving these speeds (25Mbps+).

    1. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @DTMark
      2Mbps is not narrowband – it doesn’t help if we all use our own personal definitions in conversation, it just causes confusion. 2Mbps is not fast broadband, but it is broadband nevertheless.

      According to TBB:

      * 85% of premises will get superfast broadband at speeds of 24 Mbps or faster
      * 5% will get broadband speeds above 10 Mbps and below 24 Mbps
      * 8% will receive speeds between 5 Mbps and 10 Mbps
      * 2% will receive speeds between 2 Mbps and 5 Mbps
      * The minimum speed at any property will be 2 Mbps, as in 100% USC coverage

      If correct, 90% getting more than 10Mbps seems like a decent result to me. It’s good to see more counties making decisions, let’s hope to EU gives the go-ahead soon too so that a lot more people in rural areas can get actually get these faster speeds without any more delay!

    2. Avatar DTMark says:

      Forget the lower figures, they’re really not relevant in this day and age.

      Streaming even basic YouTube stuff requires 5Mbps in a growing number of cases where no “SD” version is available.

      Demand has already gone well past 2Meg for basic stuff. 3G modems deliver an average of about 2Meg, you don’t need miles of ancient copper and aluminium to accomplish so little. There’s 3.6km of it linking this house back to the exchange that’s totally wasted.

      85% at 24Mbps or faster is, I would say, reasonable and should last about ten years so works for the short to medium term.

      The target of course was 90% at 30Mbps+ however.

      And the poor people will only have a choice of one single provider for the key bits that really mater, of course, regardless of what company name is on the bill.

      So in terms of performance against project objectives, or in value terms, I don’t think it’s that great.

      How is the minimum 2Mbps at every property guaranteed? With what technology? How does the guarantee work?

    3. Avatar New_Londoner says:

      @DTMark
      Auote “And the poor people will only have a choice of one single provider for the key bits that really mater, of course, regardless of what company name is on the bill”

      That would apply irrespective of the company awarded the BDUK contract as it was only going to fund a single set of infrastructure. Of course, you’re ignoring 4G which may deliver decent speed in some areas, depending on usage levels, any towns with cable, any wireless deployments, evn satelite.

      At least the people in Suffolk will have a good choice of competing service providers though, so will see a variety of prices, differing service levels etc. Unlike those on cable.

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